One of Nigeria’s highest producing oil and gas community – Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni, in Ndoni Local Government Area, otherwise known as ONELGA in Rivers State, has found its bearing at last.
Unarguably the highest oil and gas producing LGA in Nigeria, the massive mineral-rich host community with its LGA headquarters in Omoku, plays host to Agip oil, Elf, Obite Gas Company, NLNG, Federal College of Education and NPDC among others.
A greatly relived son of the soil, an academician, Professor O. Jason Osai, one time local government chairman of ONELGA (2002-2004) and Associate Professor of Development Studies at the Institute of Foundation Studies, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, recapped that in a society where mediocrity is the order of the day and sycophancy and cronyism have been elevated to a form of art, a political culture where lacklustre and absolutely pitiable performance in public office is, ironically, thunderously applauded, it is like a breath of fresh air in a smoke-filled room to see someone perform creditably. “It is equally refreshing to see such performance being publicly acknowledged, appreciated and encouraged by all and sundry – especially by figures in authority.”
His reflections in retrospect:
“Against vociferous protestations from family and friends, I travelled to ONELGA recently to attend to very urgent and important family matter that unavoidably required my presence. To my great surprise, I saw people from all walks of life going about their businesses in Omoku.
“You may wonder why I feel elated, but only on Sunday, August 3, 2016, at about 11.45 a.m., I had escaped a three-shot attack from an AK47 assault rifle wielding gun man at Ogbidi. That traumatic incident became my baptism of fire in the inglorious episode of social insecurity and volatility that turned ONELGA into a killing field by operators of what I call abduction economy; the episode has left every family and community in ONELGA in a state of despondency as many lives have been lost, properties worth millions of Naira destroyed and thousands have become internally displaced persons (IDP) in a society that is not at war.”
Against this backdrop, The Daily Times learnt, many well-meaning people stopped going to ONELGA and many business outfits moved out of the area while members of NYSC program and Law School externs preferred abandoning their program and losing one year of their lives rather than go to ONELGA.
The Prof recalled that Access Bank, Bank PHB, ECO Bank, FCMB, First Bank and Zenith Bank closed shop, but they were not the only victims:
“Other major eateries, business outfits and most shops and entrepreneurs relocated to other cities, the hospitality industry collapsed, turning Omoku and most communities in ONELGA into ghost towns; functionaries of various organisations in ONELGA sought transfer or commuted under heavy armed guard and these reflected negatively on the local economy and the erstwhile boisterous Omoku market went into virtual comatose,” Osai said.
“So, seeing an indication of the return of normalcy as I saw during my last visit was and still is a highly welcome development for me and I believe it is the same for every well-meaning person – especially those from, or who do business in ONELGA and who have felt pain over the senseless state of fratricide in the otherwise peaceful community of jolly good and hospitable people.”
The Prof said he would therefore, eternally remain grateful to God and appreciate whosoever played a role however infinitesimal in the process that fructified in the state of normalcy I observed.
“It is in view of this that I thank His Excellency, Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, for publicly and heartily acknowledging the good works of Barr Olisa Osi, Chairman of ONELGA Caretaker Committee, and his team and extending their tenure to enable them firm up the security situation in the area. The positive and enduring message this extension has sent is that it pays to perform creditably in whatever role and responsibility one is given.
“Also, the vibration of this action will resonate widely and enduringly and reflect positively on the persons of Barr Osi and members of his Committee. For Governor Wike, this speaks volubly of his capacity to perform the fundamental function of leadership, which is appointing the right persons in positions of authority and this is a major malaise of Nigerian politics.
“In view of the above, it is my fervent prayer that God who created and prodigiously endowed ONELGA with abundant human and material resources should guide and guard Barr Osi and his team as they perform the onerous function of sustaining peace in ONELGA. The Almighty should also touch the hearts and heads of youths of the land who have, rather unfortunately, been led astray so that they turn a new leaf and embrace peace and progress.
“And finally, God should bless and keep Governor Wike as he tenaciously pilots the affairs of the State to the glory of God.
“Tuaa! Njoh!! Li!!! Alas! Evil!! Depart For Ever!!!”